Friday, January 14, 2011


Xinpu, Banqiao

1/14/2011 Taiwan Explorer

新埔(sometimes as Sinpu or Hsinpu, correctly would be Shinpu) is a small part of northwestern Banqiao 板橋, a big city grown together with Taipei City, which is today a district in the newly founded New Taipei City 新北市. I know this area too well, because I used to stay here for 2 months in 2010. The area is small, but not so small. The core of the neighborhood is the Xinpu MRT Station 新埔站 which caters to this densely populated part of Banqiao and brings people to central Taipei within 20 minutes.
Although the area is pretty run down in some parts, Xinpu had a certain charm. There are however new high-rise buildings poping out in the area, of which are the 145m tall Taipei Sky Dome and the newly built 188m tall Neo Sky Dome, which is located right next to the MRT station. I was lucky to live near the Yumin Street Night Market, which was full of delicious Taiwanese foods. I have to say that some parts of Xinpu were not clean and around day and night markets, there were all kinds of smells not very pleasant to the nose. But the people were very friendly. I remember, how nice they were to me in the 7-11s and Family Marts, always greeting and thanking the customers. I used to have a convenience store right next to my apartment and an older lady and a young boy used to work there and both were trying to talk to me in their limited English and they were so happy when I replied, sometimes even with my limited Mandarin. I also had a favorite crepe stall and a favorite hamburger stall and they were always happy when I visited. In Xinpu it's not easy to meet a Caucasian person, so I was usually very obvious. People stared at me a lot in the beginning, but it became less after a while. I was bothered by it at first, but then I found a simple solution: I listened to music while walking and just focus on that, not on the people around me. It worked. Another thing about Xinpu is the heavy traffic. Sometimes it was hard for me to cross the road, because the scooters would just not stop passing by. Unlike in my country, Taiwanese won't stop for you. You need to learn how to zigzag between the approaching scooters from left and right. It stressed me out the first two weeks, but then I was like a Taiwanese. I knew exactly when to start off, when to pause and wait and when to move again. Unlike Xinzhuang, where I stayed the first two weeks and I didn't like it so much, Xinpu became like a home to me in Taiwan. Living where common people live is a unique experience and I'm happy I could learn so much during my time there.

Let me share some photos of Xinpu. The streets you'll see are located between the Taipei Sky Dome and Neo Sky Dome (mostly along the Siwei road), but that's only one part of Xinpu, where I used to frequent. Nevertheless, I think it's a very interesting area, that shows the real Taiwan... or at least the real Northern Taiwan.

This is the street, where I lived. It wasn't as bad as it looks.

My street ended at the Siwei road.

That's how Taiwanese live here. These grills are common in Malaysia and Singapore, too.

The Siwei road was the main road in the area. It was full of betel nut vendors and restaurants.

A new condominium was built in the old traditional area.

A view on the 145.5m tall Taipei Sky Dome, an apartment building with 5 towers.

A side road full of scooters.

Even the smallest lane is used as a parking space for scooters: Taiwan is Scooterland.

I always walked here to the Xinpu MRT station and passed by a sex shop.

The 188m tall Neo Sky Dome is one of the tallest buildings in Banqiao.

A parking space for bicycles near the MRT station.

A hotel in Xinpu, which looked pretty good inside.